Jackson is ‘a unique city, full of opportunities’

By: Jackson Chamber on Oct 28, 2015

Niles Reddick, vice provost of University of Memphis-Lambuth Campus.

 With 22 years of experience in higher education, Niles Reddick arrived at the University of Memphis Lambuth as the new vice provost in July 2014. 

Since then, he has used his knowledge of program development, public and community relations, and fundraising to build a long-term strategy for the UM-Lambuth campus in the historic mid-town area.

The University of Memphis has invested more than $10 million dollars to update the 100-year-old campus. Improvements include retro-fitting an elevator into a three-story building; adding lighting, windows, and HVAC units; adding high-tech classrooms; reopening the olympic pool; renovating the basketball courts; and getting UM-Lambuth certified as a Tennessee arboretum.

UM-Lambuth has also experienced a reformation of student services with the addition of multiple degrees, numerous student clubs, intramural sports, a math lab and writing center and a career services department.

“We wanted to enhance the student experience by giving them a first-class educational experience provided in multiple ways,” said Reddick.

However, Reddick’s work goes beyond renovations to the campus, as he has built relationships with Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist, Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris and other area leaders while also serving on the Jackson Chamber board of directors. 

He has also formed an alliance with other heads of the community’s higher education institutions. 

    As each of the five institutions started back to school this past August, the Jackson Chamber sponsored a welcome-back event for college students. Reddick and the other university leaders participated in the event, making history together as all five danced on the stage.

The relationship among the five institutions is as candid and comfortable as it sounds. They each host the other leaders in discussions that have led to several collaborative projects, such as the event for returning students and a mentoring program between college and middle school students.

While the spirit of collaboration is stronger than their spirit of competition, the college leaders have tried to outdo the other at each meeting ever since Dr. Bruce Blanding, president of Jackson State Community College, hosted the discussion and had Cracker Barrel cater their breakfast, said Reddick. 

“We don’t openly steal students from one another, but I would if I knew that I wouldn’t get caught,” said Reddick. “Seriously, the other college leaders and I feel strongly that what we are doing is important and is specific to what West Tennessee needs.”

For instance, UM-Lambuth has added a new program called manufacturing technology management for employees who need additional management and engineering skills to move up in the company. UM-Lambuth’s largest program is its nursing degree, which is a valuable asset in a medical-heavy community, said Reddick.

“We are working closely, and as quickly as we can, with our business partners for internships and degrees that are beneficial to the community.”

Reddick is also a writer and has a new novel ready for release in 2016. His background is in psychology and literature, and he has published a novel, as well as a collection of short stories.

He and his wife, Michelle, are proud to call Jackson home and they believe that others underrate Jackson’s potential. In particular, Reddick has been proud to highlight the economic prosperity of Jackson, the home of several well-known industry brands, such as Kellogg’s, Armstrong and Toyota.

“I love the size of Jackson, and I love that there are so many things to do here. If you think that there’s nothing to do in Jackson, there is something wrong with you. There is literally something to do every day between baseball teams, the symphony, arts events and business events. Also, the fact that Jackson has five higher education institutions for people to better themselves is incredible. This really is a unique city, full of opportunities.”

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